The ACLU is now fighting 7 loitering charges stemming from arrests made near Coverstone. The names of 3 more Latinos have been added to the already existing request for charges to be dropped.

According to the Washington Post:

“We have two problems here,” said Rebecca Glenberg, legal director of the ACLU of Virginia. “One is that there appears to be a pattern of using this ordinance to target the Latino community, and two, the loitering ordinance [overall] is unconstitutional.”

It was the second time in four weeks the ACLU has acted on behalf of Latinos in the county. A similar motion to dismiss loitering charges filed last month on behalf of four men stated that the county’s loitering ordinance is unconstitutional. Both motions are set to go before a Prince William General District Court judge Oct. 27.

This appears to be a wait and see situation. The 3 men live in Coverstone Apartments. Their attorney, Daniel Voss, reported that the men were doing nothing wrong and were standing outside the complex on a grassy area. However, something seems odd:

All the men were released after the incidents. If, however, they had been detained in the jail, they would have been questioned about their immigration status under Prince William’s agreement with federal immigration authorities, said Voss, who would not comment on whether the men are in the United States legally.

Is that how the Resolution works? Isn’t a person’s status checked post arrest? Does a person have to be jailed to have status checked? I must not have understood the Resolution after all–or are the men arrested legal residents?

29 Thoughts to “ACLU Fights 3 More Loitering Charges”

  1. Second-Alamo

    According to the ACLU I guess all laws are unconstitutional, because they limit a person’s freedom to commit acts that society doesn’t want committed. I love the part that the Latino community is being targeted. How about the fact that the only large gatherings of men loitering these days tend to be Latino. Wouldn’t that be closer to the truth!

  2. Elena

    The issue is whether there is a law that is targeting a specific population. I will wait and see what happens before I pass judgement either way.

    At least it appears as though the law is NOT being used to ascertain immigration status on misdemeanmor violations.

  3. Moon-howler

    I am withholding judgement also. Right now, I want to know if the men were released because they were legal residents or if I have misunderstood the Resolution.

  4. Rick Bentley

    “At least it appears as though the law is NOT being used to ascertain immigration status on misdemeanmor violations.”

    It darned well should be! Hopefully by showing such a sense of entitlement as to sue the County, these guys who don’t belong here will move public opinion even further towards that needed change – let’s check anyone and everyone that we can, especially if they’re loitering and working (illegally) as day laborers.

  5. Rick Bentley

    I’m going to emulate this behavior today. I’m going to go to a party – maybe a wedding – that I’m not invited to. I’m going to stand in the aisle until people complain. When the complain, I’m going to babble a little Spanish. I might move out of the aisle for a minute or two at a time, but I’ll keep sneaking back. Eventually I’ll get arrested, presumably the ACLU will represent me, and I can sue the people who threw the wedding!

  6. Moon-howler

    That seems to be a question. I thought anyone arrested had their status checked? Was their status checked?

    It would seem to me that if they were on Coverstone Property, Coverstone would have to be the complaintant.

    There is a lot that isn’t being said on this case. I am just trying to figure out how it fits in with the Resolution at this point.

  7. If they are arrested, they have their immigration status checked. Wouldn’t they have had to be arrested to be detained? I don’t know.

    I wonder if I saw these guys yesterday when I was on my way back from Wal-Mart. I saw 3 guys standing off to the side of Coverstone. If it was the same guys, they were ding nothing. Just talking.

  8. Rebecca

    Surely someone knows the answer here. Where are all the resolution fans? I thought that is what everyone was cheering about on BVBL.

  9. Poor Richard

    Immigration status will be checked when a suspect is booked at
    the Detention Center. If you aren’t booked, the odds are that
    a status review won’t take place.

    This is a practical matter, not a PWC political view one.
    The system can only handle so many people (more a
    Federal issue than a local one) and common sense calls
    for a “triage” – identify the worst people – felons –
    first for detainers. No matter what some folks might like,
    ICE policy and capacity limits at present push loiters off the list.

  10. kelly3406

    Loitering is a civil offense. I believe the immigration resolution allows the police to check the immigration status of those arrested for criminal offenses only.

  11. Moon-howler

    Poor Richard, that is how it is supposed to be, at least in my mind. Triage.

    However, we were told that anyone arrested will have their status checked. That was the difference in Frank Principi’s motion and the one that passed. Not everyone is jailed, therefore, all status will be checked after arrest. Maybe it changed. Maybe it stirred up such a big stink that the bocs just watered it down a bit without telling people. Just kidding.

    Kelly, that makes perfect sense. That sure isn’t what we were led to believe in the first place. I thought Chief said even if arrested for a traffic violation (which for the most part are civil) your status would be checked.

  12. Moon-howler

    i am not complaining, i am just trying to understand the situation. Apparently what I thought the Resolution said is not the case.

  13. Poor Richard

    The ICE program simply doesn’t have the capacity to handle
    people who loiter, like it not. With limited resources available,
    the logial policy is for them to focus first on the
    illegal immigrants who are the most dangerous – felons –
    and remove them from our community.

  14. Moon-howler

    That seems more than reasonable to me. So the Resolution is not the big bad wolf we were told it was. It truly was ….I wont say the N word that one of our contributors just loves to say.

    I just know what we were told and what I read is happening here do not gel.

  15. It depends

    Under the resolution, if they were arrested, their status should have been checked. It seems like the Post may have been incorrect or the article may not have been worded correctly. To say, “they were released after the incident” doesn’t necessarily mean they were arrested in the first place. They may have simply been detained and questioned and given a citation for a court appearance (a ticket). When you are detained you are in custody, but you aren’t necessarily arrested. It’s similar to a traffic stop for speeding–you can’t leave until the officer writes your ticket, but you are not arrested (just detained). Under the resolution, you are only checked for immigration status if you are actually arrested.

    The other possible scenario is that they were arrested and checked for immigration, but released anyway. As to whether they are released, it is up to a magistrate. He or she will take immigration status into account, but he or she does not have to keep the person in custody. Now, if ICE places a detainer, that’s a different story. However, ICE only cares if the illegal alien is a threat to the community (generally, someone who has committed other crimes or someone they have been looking for). They don’t really care if it’s just some illegal alien who happens to have been loitering.

  16. JustinT

    Can someone answer me this. If people are calling the police every time they see a dark skinned man or two standing in their own front yard, what are the police supposed to do? They have to check it out, don’t they? I don’t think the police are necessarily targting Latinos. It’s the vigilante racists who are putting them in that situation time and time again.

  17. Rick Bentley

    And meanwhile the larger issue beyond loitering is unaddressed – how these guys are living in Coverstone, in what is I believe government-subsidized (Section 8) housing, as so many illegals are, with friends or family, at US taxpayers expense. Like Obama’s f***ing Aunt.

  18. Rick Bentley

    Will the ACLU defend my right to speech if I drive past Coverstone and tell these guys that :

    A. They should go home to Mexico?
    B. Someone with a high-powered rifle is going to come shoot them?
    C. Someone is going to plant a bomb where they stand?
    D. etc. etc. I guess the ACLU is all about free speech, aren’t they? Are are they just on a kick to allow loitering for Spanish-speakers.

  19. @It depends Thanks for clarifying that, ID. I was wondering what “detained” meant, too. I also think Justin is right that if someone calls, then the cops have to respond. I still wonder about them asking the guys to leave, though. It doesn’t make sense that all these guys refuse to leave. I don’t get it.

  20. Lucky Duck

    Loitering is a criminal offense, not a civil offense. No police department in the Commonwealth of Virginia can enforce civil violations. There is a clear line of division between “civil” and “criminal”. The police in Virginia are not permitted to enforce civil violations unless they have been turned into criminal violations by the Court (for example child custody issues, some property code issues and a few others.) If you are detained and issued a summons for loitering, you have, in fact, been arrested and released.

    The resolution stated that upon arrest, an individual’s immigration status would be checked. There are two possible conclusions to be drawn from this case.
    1. The individuals possessed proper identification such as a Virginia driver’s license which indicates a legal resident.
    2. The officers were satisfied with the identification presented and released on a summons (no ID, there is no release)without checking the immigration status.

    By the way, there is no such term as “not necessarily arrested”, either you are, or you are not.

  21. Leila

    Rick, do you have some information the men come from Mexico? Or is Mexico just, as usual, your catch all term for the origins of Latinos even though in this area most do not come from Mexico, could not be deported to Mexico, etc.? I guess you are being facetious about the ACLU, or maybe your understanding of what the First Amendment protects (and therefore the ACLU defends) is about the same as your understanding of immigrant demographics in this region.

    Directly threatening to kill someone by shooting them or blowing them up is not covered by free speech, no. Although of course in your hypothetical example it is “someone” who is going to do it, not you. Then again you are on record advocating torture and other forms of violence against illegal immigrants as punishment and deterrence.

    It is nice to see you are such a fan of loitering laws considering how they have been used in history against the civil rights movement, protesting workers, etc. The ACLU has a long record of contesting vaguely written and thus unconstitutional loitering laws. They have not just focused on them for “Spanish speakers.” It’s always revealing though how that mention of that language figures in your posts.

  22. Moon-howler

    Thanks Lucky Duck, for clarifying a confusing situation.

    It sounds like there is a good chance the guys arrested are legal residents. (or the paper was wrong)

    I often think some of these ACLU cases are set ups. I know some in the past on other issues have been.

  23. Rick Bentley

    “Rick, do you have some information the men come from Mexico” …

    It was something that someone would yell angrily at them – not necessarily accurate. At that though, they almost surely came THROUGH Mexico and a trip home would go through there.

  24. Rick Bentley

    “I still wonder about them asking the guys to leave, though. It doesn’t make sense that all these guys refuse to leave. I don’t get it.”

    They play cat-and-mouse all day, every day. Go over there and watch for yourself. This is not a case of miscommunication (anymore than that falsehood about the grandpa being tasered for no good reason in his backyard). This is a question of whether the Apartment complex has any right to prohibit loitering.

    And I say again, it should be of interest to everyone that the guys are living there in the first place in Government-subsidized housing. If we had a government or a President who cared about Americans first, it would be an easy matter to tell people living in Section 8 housing that if they house illegal aliens, they lose their government housing. But that might have a deleterious effect on Obama’s own aunt.

  25. @Leila Thank you for pointing ALL of that out, Leila.

  26. Moon-howler

    Not all of Coverstone is section 8, just part of it.

    So Rick, how come these guys were released? Am I to assume they are legal immigrants or the Resolution has changed. If they were arrested, and they were illegal, wouldn’t they still be in custody?

  27. Rick Bentley

    My bet is that Chief Deane’s Police Department let them go before running their legal status, because ICE isn’t interested anyway.

  28. It depends

    Lucky Duck. Hate to break it to you, but it is you who is incorrect. The issue is not civil vs. criminal, the issue is whether the arrest is mandatory or in the discretion of the officer. You can be given a summons to appear in court upon an alleged violation of the loitering ordinance, or you can be actually arrested (i.e. placed in handcuffs and taken to the station). The former is a “detention,” while the latter is an arrest. Yes, loitering is a criminal offense, but the officer can decide whether an arrest is necessary. The same can be true of a traffic ticket. If you are pulled over for reckless driving, the officer will generally write you a summons (ticket) with a court date. You are detained as he writes the ticket since you can’t just leave, but you are not under arrest. If the officer, based on the circumstances, believes that an actual arrest is necessary, he can do so.

    In PWC, as I understand it, you do not get an immigration check until after you are physically arrested (placed in cuffs, taken “downtown.”). It’s just part of the “booking” process. If you simply get a criminal summons, you do not get an immigration check. That’s why the original immigration resolution said “subject to any otherwise lawful detention,” while the new one uses the phrase “arrest.” Before, they would have been checking at traffic stops and upon issuance of criminal summons if they had probable cause to believe the detained was an illegal alien. Today, they check everyone (irrespective of probable cause) if the person is physically arrested.

    I would describe it using the ‘ol square/rectangle analogy. An arrest is a detention, but a detention is not necessarily an arrest.

  29. Rick Bentley

    So, now that we see what good it does to be “nice” to illegal aliens – they sue us when we ask them to turn down music that is disturbing neighbors, and sue us for prohibiting loitering – let’s cut out the nice guy stuff. Let’s check status of everyone who is detained or stopped, for so much as a broken taillight. And anyone turned over to ICE, let’s track on a piblic website and try to shame them into taking this seriously.

    Chief deane and the Police will resisty a change in policy. It makes their job harder. For the citizens though, it’s win-win. Let’s revise the policy. Let’s say to illegal aliens, we don’t want you here.

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